Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


Foundations of International Relations examines the fundamental principles of international relations. The course will provide students with an understanding of the origins and evolution of the key concepts and theories that have been developed to explain the relations between modern nation-states. This will include detailed analysis of concepts such as idealism, realism, neo-realism, social constructivism, collective security, multilateralism, unilateralism, and the idea of the just war as well as analysis of approaches to statecraft, security, and diplomacy. These analyses will be situated in the context of significant international events such as colonialism and decolonization, the two World Wars, the Cold war, the post-September 11 reconfiguration of political relations, and the emerging doctrine of pre-emption.

Availability2022 Course Timetables

Newcastle City Precinct

  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the nature and significance of politics and governance

2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of differences in political systems and the contexts in which they operate

3. Apply concepts and theories used in the study of political science to the analysis of interests, ideas, institutions and political behaviour

4. Critically evaluate different interpretations of political phenomena

5. Demonstrate the capacity to use different research methods used to investigate political phenomena

6. Demonstrate the capacity to develop evidence-based argument and evaluation

7. Gather, organise and use evidence from a variety of secondary and primary sources

8. Identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems

9. Communicate effectively in oral and/or written work


The course content will be drawn from but not restricted to:

  1. Debates about the development of the Western system of relations between states from the Treaty of Westphalia to the present.
  2. Detailed analysis of core theoretical concepts such as liberalism, realism, neo-realism, multilateralism, unilateralism.
  3. Discussion of the role of war as an extension of politics and the role of diplomacy and statecraft.
  4. Introduction to issues such as human security, environmental security, war crimes and a consideration of the role and justification for the use of weapons of mass destruction.
  5. Introduction to core security issues and concepts.


Students must have successfully completed POLII1010 or POLI1020.

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Research Summary and Oral Exercises (12%)

Essay: Essay 1 (28%)

Essay: Essay 2 (40%)

Essay: Issue Paper (20%)

Contact hours

Newcastle City Precinct

Integrated Learning Session

Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

Students are expected to complete 4 hours of guided learning via online preparation, lectures, interactive workshops, tutorials, discussion groups or self-directed learning and an additional 6 hours of independent study per week.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.